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New Bars and Pubs - Summer 2008


From hip Hoxton hangouts and jazzy kicks in Islington to edgy alfresco drinking in Camden, Keith Barker-Main knocks ’em all back at the latest openings throughout the capital


30-33 Minories, EC3N 1DD, 020 7488 1918

AbbeyWith its modern baroque decor, Late Night London’s latest offering, Abbey, should appeal to the City faithful, joining sister ‘A-list’ venues Abacus, Agenda, Alibi and Apt. A crowd of junior suits seem happy with a mix of all-day eats (fish finger sarnies, wraps and burgers), easy-drinking New World wines at under £20, lad lagers and pitchers such as Sea Breeze on happy-hour promo. Toblerone shooters will help the commute home from Fenchurch Street whizz by, if you haven’t missed the last train… the party goes on until 3am on Thursdays and Fridays.

Old Ship Inn

2 Sylvester Path, E8 1EN, 020 8986 1641

Old Ship Inn This once-grotty tavern, now owned by Urban Inns, forms the prototype for a planned rollout of similar boutique hotels/gastropubs. Ten well-appointed bedrooms cost up to £100 per night, while the public areas include a comfy lounge bar with deep leather sofas. New World and European wines start at £12 and guest ales (Abbot and Spitfire when we visited) are a plus. The grub from Scott Wade (ex-head chef of The Gun) really floated our boat. Ham hock and black pudding terrine with piccalilli, free-range chicken legs stuffed with onion and herbs, colcannon and pea broth, and gooey rhubarb crumble to follow typify an appealing old-school British menu that’s tremendous value at around £20 per head.


254 Edgware Road, W2 1DS, 020 7724 9436

MephistoBehind an easy-to-miss doorway in the shadow of the Marylebone flyover, lies this new late-night club/bar from Deon Kerk, of Notting Hill’s Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam. The main space, lit carmine, with communal tables, bench seating and a Banksy-esque mural, is in contrast to a second room, a cute Miss Marple-ish parlour ideal for a girlie chin-wag. Asahi and Sol cost £3.25, wines start at £12.95 and cocktails at £5.75. Mephisto signatures (£6.50) include the daredevil (Cuervo Gold, Cointreau, passionfruit syrup, lime and cranberry juices), while nibbles come by way of yakitori skewers, teriyaki, dim sum and vegetable tempura. Music runs to US disco, Euro house and Brit indie.

The Hoxton Pony

104-108 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AH 020 7613 2844

The Hoxton Pony Papa (Salvatore Calabrese of Bar Fifty St James’s) will be pleased with son Gerry’s new Hoxton club/diner, and the excellent drinks menu designed by current UK Bartenders Guild national champion, Andy Pearson. Syrups and compotes made from organic British produce provide the base for exotic liquors such as Spring Picnic (Tanqueray, pear, thyme, ginger liqueur and lemonade), served in witty teacups. Affordable wines include a worthy 2003 Lebanese red. Draught ales from local breweries demonstrate Calabrese’s eco credentials. And bottled water is strictly eau no! East End grub fit for Mayfair palates (tarragon jellied eels and chicken and crayfish pie) is served all day.

Osso Jazz

300 St Paul’s Road, N1 2LH, 020 7226 2090

This cosy jazz and blues joint, reminiscent of a 1950s Soho supper club, will appeal to serious Blue Note enthusiasts and Michael Bublé fanciers alike. A small entry charge ensures quality acts perform live six nights a week. Open from 7.30pm until 2am, pasta dishes such as linguine with clams, risotto milanese and swordfish steaks are served until midnight. Owner Keith Springer vows to keep mark-ups to a minimum: £20 secures a decent bottle of Barolo, while Sancerre at £12 and house spirit and mixer at £2.50 will be music to anybody’s ears.


4 Golden Square, W1F 9HT, 020 7287 9241

Graphic’s palette of chocolate, dark leather and cream will make this a popular cocoon come winter, but on a hot summer night, it felt a trifle stuffy. That won’t deter the local creatives and fashion folk that this new DJ bar from the 22 Below team is angling for. Mixology with a theatrical flourish is the pledge of bar staff from the likes of Mahiki. Healthy lassis and smoothies and 40-odd (£7.50-ish) cocktails such as apple wood sour (fresh apple and sugar cooked at the bar, Woods 100 rum and maple syrup on ice) join a strong lager selection headed by Mexico’s Pacifico and Trinidadian fave, Carib. All-day food majors on Asian/Med skewers, served with noodles, couscous and salads.


13 Coventry Street, W1D 7DH 020 7297 3200

OrchidBilling itself as ‘an oasis of calm’ is subterranean cocktail/late-night live venue, Orchid. Its owners are also responsible
for Waxy O’Connor’s, but the main area – modishly softened by muslin drapes, butterscotch seating and flattering lighting – is genuinely chic. Cocktails include a worthwhile martini selection – the Granada’s pomegranate and mandarin juices adding a flavour of Andalusia to
its vodka base. An interesting wine list eschews party plonk: £30-£40 gets classy Burgundies and beefy South Americans, while Champagne prices will suit the VIP room’s heat fixtures and footballers. A main stage hosts everyone from indie punks to jazz crooners. Med to Asian nibbles, served free until 8pm, help create good karma.

The Betjeman Arms

Unit 53, St Pancras International, Pancras Road, NW1 2QP, 020 7923 5440

The Betjeman ArmsAs Eurostars slither in from abroad, one corner of St Pancras remains forever England. Named after the poet laureate who saved the station from the 1960s wrecking ball, is this new pub/restaurant. The smart heated terrace has a continental feel – an impression bolstered by the likes of Vedett, Duvel and Amstel, and a wine of the month. Adnams, Meantime wheat beer and The Betjeman’s own ale (brewed by Sharps) redress the balance. Food is a similar cross-Channel affair: bubble and squeak with poached egg and bacon, versus tuna steak, white beans and chorizo, the latter at £15.50.

Proud Camden

The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH, 020 7482 3867

Proud Camden If local waif Amy Winehouse fancies a night on the lash, a converted Victorian stall at this former horse hospital could be just
the spot. Achingly cool gallery/bar Proud, relocated from its adjacent junkyard location, is a Camden classic. Its terrace, packed with deckchairs, plays social central to grungy lads and indie chicks. Themed booths include the boudoir, where Moët
& Chandon Brut Imperial Rosé is what to quaff at £80. Wine starts at £13.50, there’s Budvar and Sol, and all the iconic firewater brands are present and correct. A varied programme of live gigs and in-demand DJs (door charges may apply) keeps things stewing, but don’t expect to eat: Camden’s skinny jean genies observe a strict liquid diet.

Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Summer 2008